Salvaged Memoirs

Salvaged Memoirs: Patent Heels

Introducing Salvaged Memoirs

I’m excited to introduce you to my new series called Salvaged Memoirs, a little five minute story break for you to enjoy mid week. I was inspired for the series by countless hours spent rummaging through op shops, curio stores and garage sales. And by my mum who wondered about the lives the objects had before we bought them, wondered about the homes they used to live in and the people that used to own them. About their stories. Me too, I sometimes wondered about that.

And that’s how Salvaged Memoirs was born. A series of stories about the abandoned treasures I buy that beg their stories to be told. Or maybe my stories that beg to be told.

I think we sometimes forget the stories deep inside the objects we surround ourselves with. The history, the joy, the triumphs and sadness all encased in a trinket, a ring, a chair, a vase. Talismans of memory and identity. So when you next visit your local op shop, garage sale or antique store take a moment to imagine the glorious pasts those objects and owners have lived.

To kick things off, a pair of shoes.

$4. David Elman, Black Patent Leather Heels. Op Shop. Milford, Auckland, NZ.

Cynthia wasn’t in the mood for Greg’s awkward small talk today, she wasn’t in the mood any day, but especially not today. Just once she wished to settle into her morning without interruption and give herself a chance to fortify against the groundhog-day practical joke she’d been playing on herself for longer than she cared to remember. No talking for 20 minutes usually did it, but alas this small pleasure eluded her every morning. Didn’t anybody understand morning etiquette and personal boundaries she muttered while taking off her trainers and slipping on her new heels (a recent splurge).


While stuffing her trainers into her locker Cynthia thought back to the dinner party at Tom and Veronica’s on the weekend where the conversation had swivelled ad nauseum around house prices, mortgages and twelve-hour days, and how to deal with the jet lag of it all. Cynthia felt like an onlooker at a stranger’s funeral, but she thought best not to voice that. She’d seen how this group of ‘friends’ made short work of naysayers (cults don’t like naysayers she thought). Though at three Pinot’s in she felt more sober than she actually was, leaving her teetering on the brink of rebellion while navigating an interrogation from Bianca and her fuckwit of a boyfriend Jeremy on her child-less, mortgage-less, car-less and lest we forget man-less life. Thanks to Jeremy’s snide and quizzical questioning ‘how does one navigate solo and without the trappings?’ she was coming off like a three headed Octopus.

The old Cynthia would have waded in mud up to her armpits and rallied against the machine, but she knew a Pinot fuelled rebellion was wasted on him (she made a mental note to cease and desist socialising with work colleagues). Having friends in every other country but her own was not a cost she foresaw having to pay when she set off globe-trotting in her twenties, now back at home in her forties she was being charged like a wounded bull and her introverted self was struggling to make the payments. Sticking to her golden rule of never justifying her existence she quickly swivelled the conversation back to the tough decisions of fixed or floating and slate or Italian marble, which had them quickly forgetting the exotic, bohemian creature sitting amongst them. She sat out the rest of the evening playing a rousing and repetitive rendition of primal screaming, killer drums and lead guitar in her head. Black Sabbath or Deep Purple she thinks. Used often, she’d found it a perfect go to for drowning out unwanted surrounds.

Shuddering at the memory of the inquisition she looked at her email filled screen, forcing interest. It wasn’t working and hadn’t been for years, yet for some reason completely unknown to her she kept on taking, filling and being in roles that were totally anathema to her person, vision, passion and values. Twenty years of self-enforced fraud-ship adds up and math’s had taken on a new meaning post forty.

Later that week while honouring her bi-annual wardrobe cleanout Cynthia reflected on her need for change. She part believed, part wondered if she was ever going to pull it off, ever going to earn a living doing what she loved. At about this time the usual suspects entered the conversation ‘how will you make it work? ‘how will you make enough money to fund the life you want? blah blah blah. She was tired of this fear driven revolving door of a conversation. Completely tired.

Large rubbish bag nearly full, she looked at the black patent John Greer high heels she paid a fortune for only a couple months earlier. She’d bought them to go with the job and to look the part, though on reflection they were definitely not her. A play it safe part she was over playing though scared to change.

As she did the usual assessment of ‘keep-don’t keep’ their exorbitant price ran through her head. And then from out of nowhere lurched a deep primal scream from the depths of her gut. Winded she took a step back, a touched dazed and confused she asked ‘what the fuck just happened there?’ to the pile of work shirts unassumingly clumped on the bed.

In the ensuing silence she thought better of it and placed the shoes in the bag.

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